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UK spy agency GCHQ reveals its Christmas challenge for children. Can you solve it?

By Hafsa Khalil, CNN

London (CNN) — What do secret codes and kids have to do with Christmas?

GCHQ, the UK’s largest intelligence agency, has sent out its annual Christmas card, complete with a set of puzzles aimed at Britain’s youngest minds.

This year’s challenge is the “toughest” one yet, the organization said in a statement Thursday, with 11- to 18-year-olds facing a series of seven “complex puzzles” masterminded by the agency’s puzzlers to uncover the final festive message.

“Puzzles have been at the heart of GCHQ from the start. These skills represent our historic roots in cryptography and encryption and continue to be important to our modern-day mission to keep the country safe,” GCHQ director Anne Keast-Butler said in the statement.

“Our puzzlers have created a Challenge which is designed for a mix of minds to solve. Whether you are an analyst, an engineer or a creative, there is a puzzle for everyone,” she added, calling it “one for classmates, family and friends to try to solve together.”

The puzzles are contained within GCHQ’s Christmas card, available to download.

The card features a snowy photograph of the agency’s World War II home, Bletchley Park, where UK cryptologists sought to decipher messages sent by the Nazis. Among them was Alan Turing, who famously decrypted coded German messages sent using the Enigma cipher machine.

“GCHQ’s history at Bletchley Park is represented in this year’s Christmas card as a reminder of the role this historic place has played in our wartime efforts but also as home to this year’s AI Safety Summit,” Keast-Butler added.

Each of the seven puzzles has a one-word answer that can follow the word “Christmas.” Puzzlers then need to decide which letters to put into the provided grid to reveal the final answer.

The answers to the puzzles will be available on GCHQ’s website at 7 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET) Friday.

The agency, now based in the town of Cheltenham in England, encourages children to put their heads together to give them the best chance of solving the puzzles, which each test different skills.

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